There are movies…and then there are Travel movies…Movies which inspire one to pack up all our worries and set out to see the world! They may not necessarily always have perfect storylines but they definitely have awesome cinematography with superb visuals, usually accompanied by alluring music which talks directly to your soul and tell a tale of their own. They don’t even need to be set in some far-off wonderland; a good Director can make even a seemingly ordinary place come alive with the sights & sounds of routine day-to-day life shot in an amazing manner. And when the tale is set amidst nature’s bounty of the ‘God’s own country’, even the most mediocre cameraman can spin magic with his tool!

There are many on-the-road movies which take one on an enchanting celluloid trip but some note-worthy recent Malayalam ones which truly succeed in giving us travel-goals are :

Charlie: “Charlie” is a brilliantly crafted 2015 movie by Martin Prakkat about an independent-minded girl, Tessa’s (Parvathy) journey to trace a mystery man who intrigues her but remains elusive to her throughout. Tessa is a free-thinking soul who wants to live a carefree life on her own terms, and to this end she runs away from home, taking up a room on rent in a strange new place, in order to escape her family’s plans to tie her down in matrimony. She discovers that the room’s previous occupant, Charlie(Dulquer Salman) is a quirky, fascinating character who left behind a plethora of interesting curios & unusual stuff, which piques her curiosity about him and she sets out to trace him down. However, this leads her on a wild goose chase, as she soon realises it’s not so easy considering he’s like a restless vagabond without a permanent home and always on the move! The more she digs up about him from his acquaintances/ strangers who have crossed his path, the more she finds herself being drawn towards his effervescent persona, which while being playful & child-like is deeply sensitive at other times, sensing the unspoken pain of total strangers. An unselfish do-gooder, he seems to have made it his life’s mission to rescue hapless souls & rehabilitate them in Life, as she finds through the course of her quest to unravel this mystery of a man. Playing a real-life Santa Claus to many ill-fated souls by restoring their faith in Humanity, this Hero sure has his heart in the right place, even if his ways seem a bit edgy & weird at first glance. And so does this movie! It takes the viewer along on a thrilling rollercoaster of stunning visuals of the misty Tea plantations of Idukki & the old-world towns of Fort Kochi, coupled with soul-stirring music and heart-warming moments which will make you wanna live your life like a nomad without a care in the world, just like the Hero, Charlie!

please refresh page if video is not loaded

Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi: This literally translates into the “Blue Sky, Green Sea, Red Earth” and is an introspective on-the-road 2013 movie, Directed & Produced by Samir Thahir wherein the lead character, Kasi (Dulquer Salman) decides to set out on a soul-searching road trip from Kerala all the way across to the North-eastern tip of India, Nagaland; the goal being to reunite with & win over his lady love, Assi (played by Manipuri actress, Surja Bala). He has company in the form of his friend, Sunny who insists on coming along on the bike trip. The entire movie is played out on the road with the many adventures & travails the twosome face and the different people they encounter in the course of their self-reflective voyage, interspersed with nostalgic throwbacks which reveal the sequence of events leading up to the trip. The film not only traverses through the changing South-west-to-North-east charming geographical landscapes but along the way also gives us glimpses of the varied political & social unrests at play in the different regions they cross; some of which even forcing Kasi to pause & rethink his decision of undertaking this tumultuous trip. Finally overcoming all hurdles, the trip comes to a fairytale end leaving the viewers feeling visually & emotionally enriched.

please refresh page if video is not loaded

Rani Padmini: In India when we think Travel movies, we tend to picture cool dudes whizzing off on roaring bikes or in even cooler cars with some moments of manly bonhomie thrown in. It’s very rare that we come across a movie about a girl backpacking her way about….And 2 girls?? Almost never! Which’s precisely why this next movie is like a breath of minty fresh air! Rani Padmini is a 2015 road film by Aashiq Abu on two females- Rani & Padmini (enacted by the supremely talented duo- Manju Warrier & Rima Kallingal); different from each other as chalk from cheese, who cross one another’s paths in the midst of their respective diverse, personal journeys. Growing up, Padmini was the quintessential “Miss Goody Two-shoes” who had always lived her life traditionally by the rule book. So also later, when it comes to potentially life-changing decisions, she docilely lets her close ones decide for her, only to realise to her naivety that if one doesn’t speak up or put one’s foot down when required, one will be expected to toe the line forever & live the rest of your life living somebody else’s idea of life! Rani, in contrast, was always the rebellious tomboy at heart- forever getting into fist fights with boys. They both embark separately on a trip to Himachal for very different reasons- Padmini to meet her husband who’s participating in the Himalayan car Rally there & resurrect their marriage, while Rani is forced to be on the run to flee from some local Delhi gangsters with whom she had a run-in with! The crux of the film lies in the coming together of both these diverse characters & the warm camaraderie & joie-de-vivre shared by them on this journey to self-discovery, whilst also learning some invaluable Life-lessons along the way, from each other as well as from the people they encounter. As Padmini reasons to herself before setting out “The dangers, a girl would encounter on the road are not much different from the ones she would perhaps encounter sitting at home”! The film’s plus point lies in the fact that it doesn’t take its lead characters too seriously, unlike the typical movies with female leads, not hesitating to laugh at itself and finding humour in the unintentionally comical situations they find themselves in. And while at it, it takes the viewer on an invigorating trek through the lush green carpeted valleys of serene Manali & jaw-dropping vast expanses of Leh-Ladakh to the awe-inspiring visuals of the snow-peaked majestic Himalayas- This is one of those movies which makes you wanna crave to set out backpacking yourself!

please refresh page if video is not loaded

Beautiful: So at the very the outset let’s make it clear that “Beautiful” is not your typical Travel movie played out on the road, in fact, it’s mostly played out entirely in a single room of a house! So then what it doing on this list you may well ask? Well, lets just say this movie inspires one to get out & feel the wind through your hair & smell the roses like nothing else does! It’s about a quadriplegic man, Stephen’s (Jayasurya practically living this role!) indomitable spirit for Life & how he chooses to celebrate every little moment of life, rather than be depressed & brood over his immobile, paralysed fate. Of course, that he is a millionaire just makes it a tad easy. Stephen’s character is shown to be full-of-life with eyes twinkling with mischief, and at times blunt to the point of stinging forthrightness, especially when it comes to his greedy relatives who are only interested in his money! What he lacks & longs for is companionship & that makes him seek out John, a talented but struggling singer-guitarist at a local hotel, after watching him perform one evening. John is approached by Stephen’s trusted old manager with the offer to work for Stephen, his only job being to keep the latter company, ‘cos apparently he reminded Stephen of an old dear friend who’s no more. John, although initially hesitant, accepts for the sole reason that he needs the money for forming a band of his own. Thus, a reluctant John comes over to Stephen’s palatial home where he finds him engrossed in the climax scene of the Bollywood classic “Sholay” where Jay, the dying hero, bids his friend Veeru a final adieu, and the strains of “Ye Dosti …” can be heard in the background. The Sholay symbolism sort-of sets the stage for the ‘Jay-Veeru’ kinda easy camaraderie & bromance that these 2 unlikely characters come to forge, with both hitting it off right away. Despite having very different attitudes to Life, they quickly become very fond of each other. John admires how Stephen doesn’t let his physical disability affect his zest for life & his never-say-die attitude, and that he never wallows in self-pity himself or likes sympathy from others, for that matter! Which’s why when Stephen expresses a desire to John to take him to see the whole city, whizzing around on his bike, he doesn’t have the heart to refuse him and tries his level best to fulfil this whim of his. So he gets a seat with a backrest fixed onto his bike’s pillion seat, takes the neck-down paralysed Stephen and strapping him onto it like a baby, zips off on his bike! Stephen is as excited as a kid on his first outing, feeling the wind & raindrops on his face, loving the thrilling speed, enjoying an ice candy, fishing on the waterfront and even enjoying being carried piggy-back by his friend through the myriad markets of Kochi! Of course, the movie plot then takes a turn with the entry of a beautiful home nurse into the house & both of their hearts! But watching Stephen savour & cherish the simple pleasures of life which most of us take for granted just gives one a reality check, as to how privileged & sorted our own lives are and how badly we need to pause once-in-a-while in our rat-races & appreciate the wonders of the world around us…maybe just set off on a trek up the hills or a long walk down the road, rather than staying wired into our gadgets 24/7!

please refresh page if video is not loaded

North 24 Kaatham: (‘Kaatham’ is a unit of distance in Malayalam) Haven’t we have all longed to go on that one life-altering trip where you cross paths with an interesting stranger when things don’t go as planned & you end up sharing many incredible moments of adventure & fun, albeit for a brief period. But it leaves such an impression that one is unable to forget them even after the trip is over. North 24 Kaatham (2013), written and directed by debutante Anil Menon takes you on one such journey involving 3 main characters- the first is a geeky Techie, Harikrishnan (brilliantly enacted by Faahadh Faasil) introverted, socially awkward & obsessed with cleanliness to the point of coming across as downright rude & eccentric to his colleagues & even family members. Second, a smart & kind social worker, Narayani (Swathi Reddy), who works at an NGO and the 3rd person is a retired schoolmaster, Gopalan (Nedumudi Venu). These 3 disparate characters are brought together during an overnight Train journey to Trivandrum. In the midst of their journey, Gopalan gets a call informing him that his wife is seriously ill and he decides to turn back. Narayani concerned about his condition decides to accompany him to his hometown. In the confusion, Gopalan forgets his cell behind & when his friend calls again, in the train Hari takes the call whereupon he learns that Gopalan’s wife has passed away. Not knowing how to convey this tragic news to the old man upon alighting, he ends up missing his train! Now stuck in the middle of nowhere he too joins the duo on their return journey. But as fate would have it, to add to their woes all local modes of transport are delayed or suspended due to it being a ‘harthal’ day! They are forced to hitchhike rides in police jeeps, on strangers’ bikes, even a passing minister’s cavalcade and cross waterways in a ferry & a fisherman’s boat to reach their destination, leading them through a series of misadventures! Narayani in her chilled & bold manner takes it all in her stride, but Hari due to his OCD personality & being used to his rigid routines has trouble adjusting to all the trials during the trip. By the end of it, however, as he realizes the error of his ways, he finds himself to be a changed person, who has learnt to loosen up and take himself & his disciplined life a little less seriously. He starts to appreciate life & all the people around him, overcomes his OCD & even manages to fall in love.

please refresh page if video is not loaded

Lord Livingstone 700 Kandi: Scripted and directed by Anil Menon, this one’s a leisurely ode to Nature & mother Earth and a visual treat for Nature-lovers! It’s about a fictional never-never-land village called “7000 Kandi” inhabited by peace-loving tribals, set amidst dense forests in Kerala. Its threatened with evacuation & deforestation by a huge British corporation called Lord Livingstone Co. which owns the lease to the land. The central character of this film is a Nature enthusiast & environmentalist, Philicose (Kunjacko Boban) who comes across this land during one of his many sojourns & falls in love with its natural beauty & bounty. But soon it comes under the radar of industrialists too, who wish to exploit it for its rich resources. Philicose in a bid to save the forest & the village, writes a series of letters to experts from diverse walks of life, with an impassioned plea, inviting each of them to come to this place promising them an experience of a lifetime, in return. Of them, only 6 respond & come- they include a retired Govt defence secretary, a chemical engineer doing research on the connection between plants & human thoughts, a lady who’s an expert in gun-testing, an adventure junkie, a Zoologist prof. & a street magician! When these 6 arrive at the designated location they realise the only way to the tribal village is by trekking for days through dense forests, misty plains and dingy caves, sometimes braving wild animals. They begin to enjoy the sights & sounds of the mystical forest and learn to get used to being away from all urban comforts and being one with nature. How this motley group, along with Philicose manage to hatch up a curious plan to defeat the mighty conglomerate & save the forest from deforestation forms the essence of the story. The enticing visuals of raw nature at its very best with its wondrous, multifaceted topography, accompanied by the rustic, earthy music are an experience that keeps one riveted through the good intentioned message the film tries to convey.

please refresh page if video is not loaded

So there you have it! A potpourri of potboilers guaranteed to give one the wanderlust and get you bitten by the travel bug! Trust me, if this medley of movies does not give you travel goals for life then nothing else will!
So happy backpacking

Facebook Comments